Argentina will arrive in Qatar with unprecedented aspirations, with a great team in good shape, and with the duty of giving Messi the World Cup in his last attempt.
Not since 2002, when Argentina led the South American qualifiers undefeated under Bielsa, has there been so much optimism around the team.
Lionel Scaloni's team has absolutely everything to succeed in Qatar, and it is a real possibility that they can finally lift the trophy for the third time, after having done so in 1978 and 1986.
Strenghts: Messi, Balance, Momentum
The simple fact of having Messi gives Argentina an advantage that the rest of the teams do not have. We're talking about possibly the greatest player of all time, in his final chance to win the World Cup, the trophy he craves most in his life.
Messi leads all of Argentina's historical statistical records, but more importantly, he has been the team's spark plug in the Copa America and Finalissima conquests.
The legendary Diego Armando Maradona once said, "If Messi has fun, we all have fun." In short, if Argentina's #10 is on his day, his team will win, period.
In addition to Messi's magic, the Argentine team is fully balanced, with good players for each position. Coach Lionel Scaloni has managed to put together an XI where there are no weak points. From the defense to the attack, Argentina has players with a good present in Europe, in addition to good alternatives on the bench.
Argentina is currently unbeaten in 35 matches, the second best streak in all of soccer history at the national team level. Riding good momentum, Argentina is a great candidate to win their third star.
Weaknesses: Lack of competition against top European sides
Honestly, Argentina has not shown weaknesses in a long time, although there is one aspect to consider.
We know that Brazil and Argentina are infinitely superior to the rest of their CONMEBOL rivals, and that both have mostly played friendlies with teams from other continents except Europe. The lack of competition with European powerhouses, with different tactics, could cause Argentina to be surprised in Qatar.
You're probably thinking about Argentina beating Italy in the Finalissima, but you have to put things in perspective. Italy played with some substitutes, and that same team lost to modest North Macedonia weeks earlier. The Azzurri that faced Argentina were very different from the Italy that won the Euros.
This does not mean that Argentina is going to lose against a European team. However, the uncertainty is there, and until these matches take place, everything is up in the air.
Player to watch: Cristian Romero
We have already talked about Messi, and to do so again would be redundant. We all know that he is the best, so we want to highlight another player: Cristian Romero.
The Tottenham center-back has provided Argentina with much-needed defensive security. For years, the team always had a weak link in defense, but that ended with the presence of Romero.
At only 24 years of age, "Cuti" Romero has shown great maturity in the defensive backline, exercising his authority, neutralizing any opposing attack and providing a secure pass from deep.
If Romero is solid, the opposing team will have a very difficult night hurting Argentina.
Scaloni's team will have no problem topping Group C, where they will face Mexico, Poland, and Saudi Arabia.
In the Round of 16, they will overcome Denmark or France without any problems. The team will continue to be inspired and will also advance to the semifinals.
This is where everything thickens, because they are likely to face Brazil, in an epic match where we will see the greatest rivalry in the history of soccer nations. This match would be a coin flip, but we have to pick a winner, and that will be Brazil.
Argentina is among the top three candidates to win the World Cup, and what is certain is that Messi's team will play seven matches in Qatar. Any other result would be a resounding failure, considering the great generation of players they have.